THE FOCUS: Towns, Local Leagues & Travel plans
“Long Journeys, Local Leagues, Local Teams.”
Imagine a Kenya Premier League promotion playoff game between fictional clubs called Turkana United against a relegation-bound team in the KPL from Mombasa. Imagine that the top two teams that earned direct promotion to the Kenya Premier League are Marsabit Soccer Club and Bunyala Town Club.
We cannot think of local teams earning spots in the top-tier competition, especially from various parts of the country. The 2018/2019 NSL saw Kisumu Allstars get automatic promotion to Kenya’s top tier league, this scenario should have you think harder and harder about the possibility that the image above can come true.
Kenya’s soccer system taps into different regions, communities, skill levels, and physical attributes. The system is not currently being used to its full potential but slowly moving in that direction.
A 47 County League structure that sees all 47 top teams from each county meet in regional leagues to fight their way up to the premier league, is what many Kenyans are missing out on. Strengthening the structures is more progressive and will boost all other levels in the pyramid system of Kenyan football.
Local leagues will not only expose talents across Kenya but will also improve the levels of sports development in these regions, in turn, shed light on economic and social growth in various towns.
If all clubs mentioned above got promoted, 18 clubs in the Premier League (Hopefully, it will be 24 in future), clubs & fans will have to travel to either of these towns for home games and so will these clubs travel for their away encounters.
A match pitting Bandari FC and Turkana United will see two clubs travel for hours from one part of the country to the other for a 90-minute game. Do we have infrastructure that will spur the growth of sports in the region?
How about Bunyala Town Club? Is the club ready to travel long-distance, and get high mileage for away games? This is what sports development is all about. Just a few years ago, Mombasa RFC struggled in the Kenya Cup due to long-distance travel from the coast to majorly Nairobi for away games.
Are we ready for long mileage travel in the league? Are our small towns ready to host travelers from across Kenya?